In “Statements in Stone” (2/18), James T. Keane writes about church-related buildings built pre-1965, and then the less ornate built after the Second Vatican Council. We always thought that one of the outcomes of Vatican II was that the church hierarchy was required to build less expensive and less fancy structures. In my opinion, the post-1965 buildings may have been cost saving, but many were also cheaper in appearance—plain, to the point of awful.
I’m surprised the author does not mention his own building, built before 1965, the Maryknoll-Orbis Books Center in Ossining, N.Y. I happen to be in awe of that early-20th-century building with its Chinese-style curved roofs with traces of bright red trim and the brown-tan field stone structure. It is a statement in stone to the first American foreign mission society known as Maryknoll.
Even today, the beauty of that building takes your breath away when you first drive up to it. It is a monument to God, regardless of who worships there.
Change Is Good
I just finished reading, from cover to cover, the Feb. 11 issue of America, and I celebrate the changes! My husband and I have been faithful subscribers for years and, honestly, I was starting to stockpile the issues instead of reading them.
In his column, Of Many Things, Matt Malone, S.J., articulated the new vision and gave us a sense of things to come. How wonderful that you will have such diversity of voices writing for you. Many of the names are familiar to me from other contexts. The three major articles in this issue were on topics that I have followed closely in other Catholic newspapers or periodicals. And I have already started reading Jesus of Nazareth, by Gerhard Lohfink, as recommended by James Martin, S.J. It is my Lenten reading and a powerful drink for a thirsty soul!
So thank you for a wonderful issue, and I look forward to the issues ahead.
For those of us who disagree with the political strategies of the church in its attempts to eliminate abortions, “Forty Years Hence” (Current Comment, 2/11) was a sober reminder of the extraordinary dimensions of the reality of abortion in the United States. It is worth restating your words: “Approximately one million abortions are now performed annually in the United States, a fact that should deeply pain the conscience of the nation.”
In describing the “mixed bag” realities of the endeavor to eliminate abortion in the United States, you note that the Republican Party has been reliably anti-abortion. I strongly differ with your assessment. The Republican Party has used anti-abortion rhetoric for years, but I have yet to see a translation of their rhetoric into a single significant instance of legislation. I think the bishops and pro-life activists have been snookered into continued support of the Republican Party without ever having been delivered positive results.
Worse, given the many political realities you describes the sometimes venomous and ignorant rhetoric used by Republican candidates has further diminished what should be the appropriate political approach. We should be aiming to reduce as much as possible the number of abortions in this nation by figuring out meaningful ways to convince women in crisis and the electorate of the wisdom of our beliefs. Forty years of hard-edged and immoderate rhetoric and strategies to eliminate abortions have only fortified those who disagree. A million annual abortions prove the point.
Elephant in the Room
As I read the various letters pertaining to the new evangelization effort within the Catholic Church (2/4), one nagging question kept recurring in my head: “Can we trust you?”
Having taught religion classes in a Catholic high school for nearly 33 years, I know that before you can teach students any Scripture or theology, you must first establish a trusting relationship with them. Students want to know whether or not you are a true believer. Are you a good and loving person who practices what he preaches? Are you just someone espousing the company line or do you really believe and practice what you teach?
It has been 10 years since the pedophilia scandal broke in the United States and worldwide. While many diocesan programs like Protecting God’s Children have been instituted, one of the most critical aspects of the crisis has gone unaddressed: the accountability of bishops within their dioceses. The bishops have not developed any system for holding one another accountable. As a result, the moral credibility of our bishops has been severely weakened.
The elephant in the room then, as regards the church’s new plans to evangelize others, is the simple question, “Can we trust you?”
Too Many Guys
I just picked up the Feb. 4 issue of America from my mailbox and cannot get beyond the cover, “Thinking With the Church,” with four authors, all men and all clerics! I have reason to be grateful to each of these men for his insight, but surely you could have found one woman to feature on such a topic.
Amy Hoey, R.S.M.
Silver Spring, Md.